Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Thursday, 21 February 2002

# 3:45 PM

I investigated the electrical situation a bit more. Downstairs, we have the power feed from PG&E which comes in and gets split into two channels. Each channel goes through a fifty amp breaker, then fans out to six separate circuits, each with its own meter and thirty amp fuse. One fuse per apartment, plus four for the building's common areas, or something like that. What I'm sure of is, there's six thirty-amp circuits hung off of each fifty-amp channel. Do the math: thirty times six is 240 amps, way more than the channel capacity.

I suspect the wiring is not actually rated for thirty amps of load; originally it would have been fifteen- or twenty-amp fuses downstairs. Over time, as the smaller fuses blew out, people stuck in thirty-amp fuses so they wouldn't have to replace their fuses ever again. But even at fifteen amps per circuit, that's still more like ninety amps per channel at max load.

I considered replacing all the fuses with fifteen-amp circuit breakers (you can get breakers designed to fit plug-fuse sockets) to find out which circuit was causing the overload, but the breakers cost about $10 a pop. I'm not spending $120 of my own money on something that's really the landlord's problem.

Coming at it from the other end, if I were to run all the lights, the fridge, the stereo, the computer, and the printer at once, which is not unheard of, that would be about a twenty amp load. Then there are other appliances which I don't use as often: the electric heater, for instance, can draw twelve and a half amps all by itself. (The building is supposed to be heated with miniature gas wall furnaces, but there isn't one in the bedroom.) If anything, I have fewer electrical appliances than the average: I think I'm the only tenant who isn't sharing his apartment with someone.

Conclusion: there probably isn't a short anywhere, it's just a case of the electrical supply for the building being severely under-specified for the demand. Maybe I can beat the landlord over the head with these figures and get them to upgrade... and maybe pigs will fly, too.

# 12 PM

Just got back from a game of Scrabble with Shweta. When it's just the two of us, the scores get ridiculous. This time, the combined score was six hundred and sixty-three points. Notable words appearing included DIATRIBE, QUARTIC, HEROIN, VOXEL, and AGOG. One four-by-three region of the board had eleven of twelve spaces taken (and we would have liked to put an X in the twelfth, to make EXPOSED, but AXVICE isn't a word).

Nathaniel wonders what the maximum possible Scrabble score is. I suspect it's intractable to calculate, since it depends on the dictionary and the exact sequence of moves.

Going to bed now.

# 11:30 AM

pleasantly surprised

I got a survey in the mail from the Democratic (Party) Congressional Campaign Committee. I was expecting this to be thinly disguised propaganda, with questions skewed so there was only one way to answer them even if you disagreed with what they were really asking. But it's not like that. My major objection is that they keep varying the choices you're given with. For instance, I would like to register only mild objections to the USA's withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, but my only choices are "Strongly Opposed" to and "In Favor" of the withdrawal. Also, I would like to be able to say "Neither of them" to "Which party do you trust to do X" (for several different Xes). And there's not a word about campaign finance reform, which is disappointing.

But overall it's something I can fill out and send back in with a clear conscience. I'm not going to give them any money, though.